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Questions and Answers About Women's Ordination

Questions and Answers About Women's Ordination

2015may4women_s_ordination_tutsch_and_hanna_i_coverWhile serving as associate director of the Ellen White Estate at the Adventist Church’s world headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., Cindy Tutsch, had the privilege of preaching in 61 countries in all 13 divisions of the church. However, as she served on the Theology of Ordination Study Committee, she was grieved to see the church so deeply divided on the issue of women’s ordination. While she prayed and fasted about this spiritual crisis in our church, an administrator invited her to begin collecting biblical, historical, and inspiration-based evidence that would promote the character of an inclusive God. As she started a quest for answers, she invited Martin Hanna, PhD, to join her. The result is a question-and-answer format that strives to provide biblical support for the ordination of women in areas of the world where this would enhance the mission and work of the church.

In the book, Questions and Answers About Women’s Ordination, Cindy Tutsch and Martin Hanna, provide biblical support to some of the most challenging questions about women in ministry---151 in all. Below they share 10 frequently asked questions and their answers from the book:

4. How is ordination as practiced today related to the biblical terminology associated with the call to ministry?

Although the word ordination does not appear in the Bible, the concept has been linked with biblical terms such as: “laying on of hands” (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6; Heb. 6:2), “set in order,” “ordain/ appoint” (Titus 1:5 KJV/NKJV). The Bible refers to the appointing or setting aside of someone for a particular purpose. First, God appoints someone; and then the church recognizes that appointment. The church can only ordain what God has already distributed in the church (1 Cor. 7:17). For example, Paul was already recognized as an apostle and teacher by the church when the Holy Spirit instructed them to set him aside for a specific task (Acts 13:1-3).

In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, ordination is more specific and denotes a certain level of denominational authority. This more specific use is for organizational purposes rather than theological ones; the designation of ordained ministers is meant to make the church more efficient in spreading the gospel.

12. Where do gender issues fit into the big picture of creation, sin and salvation?

The story of humanity begins with a perfect, unified creation—a single human couple, male and female, who represent the image of God with their loving relationship. There is only one race and one social status, and the man and woman are united, rather than divided, by their gender (Gen. 2:24). When sin enters in Genesis 3, all this is shaken apart. In Genesis 9, the first mention of slavery is made (9:25), and humanity begins to be divided by social status—slave and free. In Genesis 11, at the tower of Babel, the human family is separated by language, and ethnic divisions begin.

Jesus comes into this story to undo the damage of sin and to heal the divisions. In Galatians 3:26-28, Paul says that because of our status as children of God, in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Nevertheless, slavery endured for thousands of years after Paul’s statement, and Paul even gives instructions to Christians on how to live within the system of slavery. Racism has endured even longer. But Christians see it as their role to oppose both of them, and work for the restoration of God’s created ideal of equality. Because the purpose of salvation is to restore us to God’s ideal, we should seek to restore God’s intention of equality between men and women as well.

15. Do supporters of women’s ordination need to reject the Seventh-day Adventist principles for interpreting the Bible, replacing them with the higher critical method?

No. We all reject higher criticism, a title Ellen White and others used for a brand of Bible scholarship popular in liberal circles in her time. Among other things, it analyzed passages of the Bible to find evidence of editing and later authorship as a way to deny predictive prophecy. Higher criticism downplays, if not outright denies, divine authorship of Scripture.

Support for female ordination in the Adventist Church should be based on a high view of Scripture. There is no need to discredit or downplay the authority of the Bible in order to believe God calls women equally to ministry. The story of Creation, the themes of equality and redemption, and the many biblical examples of women serving in roles remarkable in their time and culture all support God’s inclusive call to ministry.

Proponents of women’s ordination, when studying the text of Scripture, seek to understand what the author intended by looking at the specific words of the passage, then the literary type and the context of the passages around it, then the specific situation which it addresses, and finally the historical and cultural context, and its place in the narrative of Scripture. The most profound act of respect for the biblical text is to study for what it actually means, and not for what the reader would like it to mean.

25. If we interpret the Bible as allowing for the ordination of women, doesn’t that open the way for the church adopting a liberal agenda based on non-biblical principles?

Each person’s interpretation of the Bible is impacted by their personal worldview, even those who embrace a literalist approach to Scripture. When the Bible doesn’t seem to offer a clear, indisputable directive on a subject, we use a principle-based approach to Bible study that considers similar or related examples in Scripture. Bible interpretation is not a mathematical science, but is dependent on the guidance of the Spirit that leads to all truth (John 16:13). Following biblical principles does not require following a liberal agenda.

The issue of female ordination is a matter of practical policy rather than moral principle. Moral principles are general moral rules of conduct that last forever, regardless of time or place. Policies are how the principle is carried out in a particular circumstance. For instance, modesty is a principle. Wearing bonnets might have been a way to show modesty in the 19th century, but wearing bonnets is not a timeless principle—it is a policy for a particular time.
33. Does the fact that woman was created as a helper indicate inequality with man in the exercise of dominion and, therefore, in the exercise of pastoral ministry?

No. “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him’” (Gen. 2:18). In the English language, a helper is often an assistant or a subordinate, but the Hebrew word used here has no such implication. The term comparable indicates that the woman was a helper equal to, corresponding to, and face to face with the man. She is the corresponding piece to the man, of the same kind as him. The word helper does not indicate any kind of inferior or subordinate relationship. Rather, it indicates a beneficial and complementary relationship. Most of the times when the word helper is used in the Bible, it is God who is being called a Helper. Even though God is superior in every way, the psalmist writes: “God is my helper” (Psalm 54:4).
38. Doesn’t there have to be subordination in the human family at creation and in ministry if they are made in the image of the triune God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

No. Some have suggested that Jesus holds a subordinate role to the Father within the Trinity, and that therefore, subordination and hierarchy must have been part of God’s original plan of humankind as the image of God. It is true that during Jesus’ time on Earth, we see Him submitting Himself to the will of the Father, as in His prayer in Gethsemane (Luke 22:42). However, it is faulty to use the Incarnation as a pattern for the eternal relationships in the Trinity. During His time on Earth, Jesus was subject to human limitations and surrounded by human temptation. Having limited Himself for His mission, He would have to rely fully on His Father, and trust the Father’s leading. At the same time, this obedience does not give any indication of inequality in Their eternal relationship. In fact, even during the incarnation, “in Him [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead” (Col. 2:9).

The Bible presents the persons in the Godhead as sharing mutual authority and mutual submission among Themselves. The Father “has put [hupotassō] all things under His [Christ’s] feet” (1 Cor. 15:27). In turn, Christ submits authority “when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power” (15:24). The Father’s submission of authority to Christ does not undermine the Father’s authority since “when all things are made subject [hupotassō] to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put [hupotassō] all things under Him, that God may be all in all” (15:28).

41. Did God create Adam to “rule over” Eve, indicating a limited role for women in pastoral ministry?
No. At creation, both man and woman are told to rule over the creation (Gen. 1:26-28). Later, as God explains to the first humans the results of their sins, He tells the woman of her separation from her husband that will lead to his rule over her. “To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you’” (3:16). This rule is part of the curse following sin and is closely associated with the pain sin brought to men and women. The term in Hebrew is the same for the woman’s pain in childbearing as for the man’s painful toil working the ground (3:17-19).

Instead of occupying the same plane, as they had previously, the man will now rule above his wife. The accuracy of God’s pronouncement is clear from the very first verse after God’s words, where Adam gives his wife a separate name, making her identity separate from his (3:20). What God intended to be a provisional blessing to save the unity of the home descended swiftly into distortions of patriarchy that can be seen in the rest of the stories of Genesis.

124. Does the Seventh-day Adventist world church teach that since man is the head of woman, then it is wrong for women to serve as pastors, elders, or deacons?
No. The modern headship doctrine, which teaches that Eve was created to be submissive to Adam’s leadership and that women cannot hold positions of spiritual leadership in the church, was developed by a small group of Evangelical ministers in the 1980s and introduced into the Adventist denomination in 1987. Though some Adventists have vigorously advocated the male headship doctrine during the last thirty years, it has never been adopted by the Adventist world church. In fact, the Adventist denomination has officially adopted fundamental beliefs that deny the headship principle and has officially approved women serving as both elders and pastors.

132. Why does the church hire women as ministers but not ordain them?
Women are hired as pastors because church leaders see their gifts and recognize their calling. The idea that a conference hires a woman to serve as pastor, assigns her to pastor a particular congregation, and pays her but does not recognize her as called and gifted by God, makes no sense at all. However, because there has not been a consensus in the church on what the Bible teaches about the ordination of women, the decision to not go forward was more pragmatic than biblical. The delay has also been influenced by the fact that in some places it would be regarded as highly unusual and possibly distressing to recognize a woman with ordination.

This compromise, however, is not biblically consistent. As ordination is an act of recognition and confirmation, and it bestows no authority beyond the authority to do the job one is called to (see the example of Acts 13:1-3), there is no reason to withhold it.

If one is called and capable of serving a ministry, there is no biblical reason not to acknowledge it by the act of laying on of hands. The dividing line at the point of ordination comes from a wrong view of ordination, a medieval view that made ordination a “sacrament,” which confers special virtue on the person ordained.

139. Isn’t church unity jeopardized if only some parts of the world ordain women?

Throughout Adventist history we have often faced theological and ecclesiastical issues that have caused differences among us. Despite vigorous debate at times, we have remained united as one body under Christ pursuing our unique God-given mission.

“We cannot then take a position that the unity of the church consists in viewing every text of Scripture in the very same light. . . . Nothing can perfect unity in the church but the spirit of Christlike forbearance” (Ellen G. White, “Love, the Need of the Church,” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 11, p. 266).

Fundamental Belief No. 14 on “Unity in the Body of Christ” states:

“Distinctions of race, culture, learning, nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with one another. We are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation.”

On the basis of this Fundamental Belief, the General Conference has established policies regulating responsibilities within the church, including employment practices recognizing women in leadership roles (see GC Working Policy BA-60). These policies reflect our convictions on the doctrine of spiritual gifts: that the Holy Spirit calls both men and women to service and that all spiritual gifts are gender inclusive (1 Cor. 12:11; Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17-21). The church has taken action to allow for the ordination of deaconesses and female elders and the commissioning of female pastors.

Although these church policies and practices are implemented differently throughout the world, the church has remained a unified, worldwide organization pressing together in mission and message. Each area would choose what best promotes the mission of the church in their field. No entity would be coerced, no union forced to act outside of its collective constituents’ conviction.

Extra Q & As

23. How do you know when a practice mentioned in the Bible is required by God for all time?
Sometimes the Bible tells us that a practice it mentions is no longer required. This is the case with the practice of circumcision (Rom. 2:26, 28-29; 1 Cor. 7:19; Gal. 5:6; 6:15). At other times, there are no explicit instructions about whether a biblical practice is universal—that is, for all times and all places. For example, there is nothing in the text of 1 Corinthians 11 that would say whether the required head adornment for women is universal or not. Yet we have not taken this advice as binding for us today. Sometimes the underlying principle would require a significantly different action in one’s culture today than in the culture of those for whom the biblical book was written. The only safe way is to study the passage to discover the underlying principle(s) that the biblical author is emphasizing. For example, the principles in 1 Corinthians 11 are the need to show honor (11:4-5) and to not give offense to others (10:32) by violating the generally accepted norms of society in our dress (11:6). In addition, when we compare scripture with scripture we also learn that honor should not only flow from the wife to the husband. The husband is also to honor his wife (1 Pet. 3:7). These principles are universal, but the specific application of the principles does vary in different cultures.

61. How can we make the egalitarianism of Galatians 3:28 a reality in our practice of pastoral ministry?
The unique characteristic of Christian leadership is submission to the needs of others. This characteristic reflects the nature of God Himself as revealed in Christ (Phil. 2:5-11). God’s challenge to us is to create a loving community based on unselfish mutual service, helping us by our fellowship to exemplify His kingdom on Earth and prepare people to live for eternity. God’s vision for us is to take the world back to Eden (Matt. 19:4-8; 2 Cor. 5:17), countering the results of sin and reflecting Jesus Christ by never abusing power in our social relationships (Matt. 20:25-28). His kingdom is to be among us (Luke 17:21).

The only way to reach that goal is for each of us to submit to the crucified Savior, known to us from the way the Holy Spirit portrays Him in the Bible. Only then are we able to put aside our personal and culturally conditioned prejudices, gender biases included. This is echoed by a statement in the Adventist Church’s Fundamental Belief No. 14: “We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation.”

65. Does the absence of women among Jesus’ twelve disciples indicate that women are excluded from pastoral ministry?
The twelve disciples were not only exclusively male, they also included no slave, no freed slave, and no Gentile or non-Jew. If Gentiles can participate in pastoral ministry, then the fact that there were not women among the Twelve does not exclude them from such ministry.

Women were mentioned as following Jesus, but to travel full time with Him among the Twelve would have been viewed with suspicion and disapproval. It would have raised questions of propriety about Jesus as well as the other disciples. Including female disciples would have undermined the ministry of Jesus. It appears that His choice was in deference to the culture of the day.

Compared with, for instance, the Pharisaic party, Jesus was unique in His positive attitude toward women—and women were the first to proclaim the message of the resurrected Savior. From the outset, these factors positioned the early Christian church as a far more egalitarian movement than was the custom.

69. What is the significance of the fact that Paul regards women as his fellow workers in gospel ministry?
Paul regards his fellow workers as persons to whose ministry the church is to submit. He writes: “I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints— that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us” (1 Cor. 16:15-16).

This appeal also includes, in principle, an appeal for submission to the “women who labored with me in the gospel” (Phil. 4:3). This is because the term fellow worker is used to identify a person who is like Paul a representative of God. The fellow worker is not a subordinate person since Paul is also only a “fellow worker” (2 Cor. 1:24; 6:1) among the men and women through whom God works in gospel ministry.

74. Does the Melchizedek priesthood include men and women who are in Christ?
Yes. The Melchizedek priesthood is made up of king-priests (Heb. 7:2), and Christ “has made us kings and priests” (Rev. 1:6; 5:10). We “shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign [as kings] with Him” (20:6). All men and women “who believe” (2 Pet. 2:7) are “a royal priesthood” (2:9; cf. 2:5). They are included in the Melchizedek priesthood.

The Old Testament priesthood is not the model for the New Testament Christian community. It’s true that the Old Testament priests were exclusively male; they were also chosen from only one tribe, the Levites. The Levitical system included dozens of ordinances that are not to be practiced today, such as sacrificing lambs.

 78. Are female pastors improper because only men grow up into Christ—the head of the church?
No. All Christians are to “grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ” (Eph. 4:15). He is the head of “the whole body” in which “every part does its share” (4:16).

79. Are female pastors to be excluded because Adam’s headship over the race was transferred to men in general?
No. Adam’s headship is transferred only to the incarnate Christ. “The first man Adam became a living being. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45). Both men and women are included in the first Adam and in Christ—the last Adam. “This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created [Adam], He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them [Adam] in the day they were created” (Gen. 5:1-2). “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).

80. Are female pastors excluded because the headship of a husband-wife relationship is transferrable to church leadership?
There is no text that would indicate there ought to be a general headship of all men over all women. Paul writes: “Let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Eph. 5:33). Similarly, “Let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2).

Further, even if there were a transfer of husband-wife relations to church leadership, this would call for team ministry with authority shared by men and women, paralleling the marriage relationship. Paul writes: “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (1 Cor. 7:4). Note the fluid and shared character of authority, even in marriage, which is generally considered to be a realm of distinct roles.

84. What does Paul teach on headship and submission in the family and the church?
In Ephesians 5:22-33, in the context of “submitting to one another,” Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands as part of his instruction on household order (5:22). Husbands, for their part, are told to reciprocate with Christlike love (5:25). This is because the husband is head of the wife in the same way that Christ is the head of the church. This very passage, however, contradicts the idea that male headship should be applied to the church, as he clearly here says that Christ is the head of the church (5:23). Paul does not use the image of a marriage or a family for the relationship between the pastor and the rest of the church.

87. Does the masculine term elder necessarily exclude women?
No. The author of the book of Hebrews makes a representative statement in describing “the elders [who] obtained a good testimony” (Heb. 11:2) as including Sarah (11:11), Rahab (11:31), and other women (11:35). These elders were part of the general order of the people of God. These are not examples of the ministry of “el- der” in the New Testament church. But these examples show that in biblical terminology, masculine language can be used to include women.

Female elders are also mentioned in the following text: “Rebuke not an elder but entreat him as a father and the younger men as brethren; the elder women as mothers and the younger women as sisters” (1 Tim. 5:1-2, KJV). Some Bible students conclude that these elder women held some official position in church leadership for various reasons. This reference to male and female elders is preceded by a reference to the council of elders (4:14). It is also followed by qualifications for elder widows (5:3-16) that are parallel with the qualifications for male elders (3:1-11). The discussion of elder widows (and the widows that are not qualified, in part, because they have not ruled well at home [5:14]) is followed by a summary statement about elders who rule well (5:17-20). Paul proceeds from the male and female elders who should not be rebuked (5:1-2) to the elders who should be rebuked (5:19-20).

Other Bible students conclude that these elders are not official elders because they are mentioned in close connection with young persons in the church. Therefore, these elders may simply be old persons. Nevertheless, even this view does not change the fact that both men and women are referred to as elders. Therefore, the term elder when used to refer to those who hold an official office does not automatically exclude women.

While the word presbyteros can designate both an older person (Philem. 9; Luke 15:25; Acts 2:17) as well as someone serving as an elder within the church (1 Tim. 4:14; 5:17), the context indicates that here Paul is describing the spirit that is to characterize a church leader’s relationship with different age groups within the church. While church leaders, whether male or female, are called to treat older men and women within the church with the utmost respect, it does not mean that older individuals are beyond correction. It merely means that if correction is necessary, it is the duty of a church leader to administer correction with the same affection and concern that would be shown to one’s own parents. Additionally, younger individuals within the church should be treated as if they were siblings.

88. Are women excluded from being elders and bishops because they do not have all the characteristics of a blameless person that are listed by Paul?
No. The essential qualification is that the elder be blameless. Paul lists examples of ways in which a potential elder may demonstrate blamelessness. A person does not have to possess all of the possible positive qualifications (such as being a married man) in order to be a blameless elder. The qualification of being “the husband of one wife” (Titus 1:5-7; 1 Tim. 3:2) applies in principle to the “blameless” (1 Tim. 5:7) elder-widow (5:1-3) who is to be “the wife of one man” (5:9). The principle Paul promotes is the sexual purity of the elder, not that the elder is a married man. The elder widow is currently unmarried because her husband is dead; yet she has a blameless character. Similarly, while a male deacon is to be a blameless “husband of one wife” (3:12), the woman Phoebe has the same blameless character and therefore serves as a deacon (Rom. 16:1).

Paul indicates negative disqualifications for elder-bishops as follows: “a bishop then must be blameless” (1 Tim. 3:2), “not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous” (3:3; cf. Titus 1:6-7). Again, Paul’s emphasis is on the qualification of blamelessness rather than on specific ways in which a person may be disqualified. This means that an unqualified person does not have to possess all of the negative traits mentioned. For example, a person who is violent does not also have to be greedy in order to be unfit for the office of elder.
89. Isn’t Paul describing elders as men where he mentions the phrase “husbands of one wife”?
No. Paul’s concern is not the gender of a church leader, but rather the type of character that should define the life of a spiritual leader. This is evident for two reasons:

First, Paul does not restrict the desire to serve as an “overseer” to individuals of only the male gender. In the original Greek, as most translations indicate, Paul says that “anyone” who wants to serve as an overseer “desires a noble task.” Anyone means any man or woman. If Paul had wanted to limit the ministry of an overseer to men, he could have easily restricted the meaning of the indefinite pronoun by adding a gender-specific noun or pronoun with it (as he does elsewhere; cf. 1 Tim. 5:4, 16; 1 Cor. 7:12-13, 36). In addition, no masculine pronoun occurs in Greek throughout the entire list of qualifications for the ministry of an overseer, or elder, as we say today. The terminology in the passage is gender inclusive.

Second, not only can women fulfill all of the requirements Paul sets forth for an overseer, but also none of the qualifications specifically exclude women as potential candidates. The requirement that an overseer be the “husband of one wife” (or literally, “a one-woman man”) also does not specifically exclude women. While this expression is gender specific, it is not gender exclusive. This is evident in the fact that Paul applies this same criterion to both male and female deacons (1 Tim. 3:8-13). It would have to apply then to the woman Phoebe, whom Paul identifies as a deacon in Romans 16:1. Thus the expression “husband of one wife” is not meant to emphasize the gender of the elder or deacon, but rather to point to the importance of sexual purity, which in Paul’s day was understood in the context of a monogamous relationship. The passage no more excludes women from ministry than it does single or childless men from serving the church as overseers.

The requirement that an elder be the “husband of one wife” is what it appears to be—a requirement of monogamy. The use of the term husband is merely another example of Paul’s use of male language. A woman, therefore, can fulfill this requirement, because she is equally able to be monogamous. We apply the principle behind this requirement, just as we would if the candidate were a single or childless man.
92. Are women excluded from being elders because, while members are to submit to elders, men are not to submit to women?
No. The Bible teaches that all Christians are to submit to each other (Eph. 5:21). This principle is indicated in the following appeal by Paul: “I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints—that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us” (1 Cor. 16:15-16).

Note that the submission of servant leaders to service is the basis of the appeal for submission from the rest of the church. Also, the entire household of Stephanas, presumably including women, had submitted themselves to the service of the church. The church submits to servant leaders whether they are male or female.

Jesus articulated a general principle of servant leadership when He said: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave” (Matt. 20:25-27).

In one of his letters, Peter restates this is the gospel principle of mutual submission between those who lead and those who follow: “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another” (1 Pet. 5:1-5, emphasis added).

95. Does Paul prohibit women from the exercise of church authority, or does he prohibit women from the abuse of church authority?
The indication that the problem was a ruling or domineering form of behavior being exercised by the women in Ephesus is found in the Greek word translated as “authority.” Instead of using exousia, the regular word used in the New Testament for authority (e.g., Rom. 9:21; 13:3; 2 Cor. 13:10; 2 Thess. 3:9), Paul uses an extremely rare word that occurs nowhere else in the New Testament: authenteō. This verb has a negative element of force associated with it. It can mean “to rule/reign,” and “to control” or “to dominate.” Rather than exercising the normal form of authority that is associated with the office of ministry, these women were behaving in a way that was overbearing. The domineering behavior of these women was opposed to the traditionally subordinate role of women to men in the ancient Roman world. Also, their behavior was completely at odds with the spirit of Christlike love, selflessness, and mutual submission that is to define the relationship between all believers, and especially the marriage relationship between Christians (Eph. 5:15-32).

97. Can women and men share authority with each other?
Yes. “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (1 Cor. 7:4).

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